April 24, 2015
“I can do whatever I want, because it’s my BIRTHDAY!” she hollered at my second oldest as she followed him around at recess whacking him all over his back and chest.
Ah, the true meaning of birthdays. Obviously, we sat her down this morning and said “Hey girl, listen. It’s your birthday, which means you get to do WHATEVER YOU WANT. No consequences! No hurt feelings! Hooray!” It’s like that movie, The Purge, where for one government-sanctioned night each year everyone gets to give into whatever violent, depraved impulses they’ve been suppressing so that peace and order can be maintained all the rest of the year. Today is our girl’s purge.
Except that NO, of course it’s not. And we did not tell her she can do whatever she wants–that’s just her thinly disguised MO all the time, and I think she was hoping that on her birthday no one would fault her for it. (And really, don’t we ALL feel that way on our birthdays?…just a little bit?…)
She started the day out quite sweet. We had balloons hanging in front of her door when she woke up, which she thought was amazing. She opened some presents and expressed enthusiastic gratitude for each of them. We took all the kids to breakfast at Starbucks on the way to school, and she was extremely amiable the whole time. It wasn’t until we got to school drop-off and she condescendingly criticized our sick two-year-old for crying (after she intentionally rammed into his feet as she passed by him on her way out of the van) that things took a turn.
She went to school and spent the first part of the day alternating between weeping and flipping out at people. (Aside: her teacher is so much gentler in her wording! I wish I had a transcript of how she described our girl’s behavior. It was very sweet, but the essence of it was “weeping and flipping out.”) At some point she calmed down and moved on, and halfway through the day I arrived with our baby and a few dozen donuts, which elicited a joyful response from her. She was proud showing off the baby, genuinely glad to see me, and thrilled to be the reason her class got to eat donuts. After school she spent the afternoon and evening at the home of some friends she adores, and they made her feel so special, and by the time she arrived home she’d left the weeping and flipping out behind her.
So, she started the day out sweet, and she ended it that way too. She made things right with my second oldest. She grabbed some balloons off her door to give to my sick two-year-old when he was once again distressed. She opened a couple more presents and was very articulate in expressing why each gift felt meaningful to her. She chatted happily about her upcoming party this weekend. She went to sleep with a new stuffed animal tucked under her arm and brightly colored balloons still hanging in her doorway.
Today, she celebrated a birthday–adding one to her age, adding more toys to her collection, being made much of by the people around her. Today, WE celebrated a milestone–her second birthday in our home, and the ways she’s grown in maturity, wisdom, self-control and thankfulness. She knows she’s a year older, but we know she’s changing from the inside out.